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February 17, 2021

Eagles might actually have more leverage than you think in Carson Wentz negotiations

Eagles NFL
Eagles-Carson-Wentz-Rams-loss-Kate-Frese_092020 Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.

The saga continues for the Eagles, as they field offers for Carson Wentz (mostly from the Bears and Colts). You've no doubt read about all the snags, hiccups and issues on the Philadelphia side of things.

In the week and a half since Adam Schefter and others tweeted that a trade of the franchise quarterback was imminent, nothing has happened except a seemingly endless stream of leaks, deep attempts at analysis and little by way of actual news. And it's seemed all bad for the Eagles.

Howie Roseman may be overplaying his hand. A Bears trade may be complicated by Wentz' preferences. Is there a mystery team? Has Wentz' actions in the Eagles locker room hurt his trade value? And what about that $33.8 million cap hit.

However, when you step back a bit and look at the big picture, the Eagles have one huge trump card in their hands. Scarcity.

The Colts and Bears each believe they have playoff contenders, at worst, and a Super Bowl contender, at best, if they add a better-than-average quarterback. And say what you want about Wentz and his dreadful 2020 campaign, but he has shown he can be better than average. In fact, if he can somehow be "fixed," Wentz has a track record of being close to elite when he has his s**t together.

For teams looking for a quarterback who can help them win now, there is no better option than Wentz. Here's a look at the list of expected free agent quarterbacks:

PlayerQB RateNFL W-L
Jacoby Brissett84.112-20
Mitch Trubisky87.229-21
Ryan Fitzpatrick82.359-86-1
Tyrod Taylor89.524-21-1
Andy Dalton87.574-66-2
A.J. McCarron86.72-2 
Colt McCoy78.18-22
Joe Flacco84.198-77
Mike Glennon83.56-21
Jameis Winston86.928-42
Kyle Allen84.47-10
Robert Griffin III86.516-28
Blake Bortles80.624-49
Cam Newton
Nick Mullens87.25-11
CJ Beathard81.12-10 

Wentz had a career-worst season in 2020, with a QB rating of 72.8, and he still has the second best career mark of any available QB above (89.2).

We deliberately excluded Dak Prescott, the clear top free agent, from this list because he's really not available, as the Cowboys will franchise tag him if a longterm deal isn't agreed upon. There have also been rumors that, perhaps, Russell Wilson or Derek Carr or Jimmy Garoppolo will be available. Those are sketchy at best.

And is Wentz worse than other rumored QBs on the market like unproven Sam Darnold (13-25, 78.6 QB rate)? Would you rather have Teddy Bridgewater (who isn't being shopped like Wentz is and may or may not be available)?

As for the free agents, would you rather have injury-prone Tyrod Taylor? A 39-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick? Pick-happy Jameis Winston? We all saw Cam Newton struggle even worse than Wentz did in New England this season.

The Eagles actually have more leverage than you might expect. Yes, there could be more QB shuffling, as the Lions and Rams swapped Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff pretty much out of nowhere, but Wentz is, somehow, one of the biggest prizes this offseason for a team in need of a signal-caller.

In reality, the top options for a contender are Wentz, or try and convince the Texans to trade Deshaun Watson — something they've been outspokenly unwilling to do at least so far.

A Wentz acquisition could also be more desirable to a trade partner for another reason — the Eagles will be taking a huge cap hit, making him relatively affordable and making his contract only really a two-year deal. Here's some analysis from our own cap expert Jimmy Kempski:

However, the acquiring team would really only be making a two-year commitment worth $47,400,000, or $23,700,000 per year. To explain:

• In 2021, assuming a deal gets done by March 19, his fully guaranteed salary would be $25,400,000, which is really $15,400,000 in salary, and $10 million in a guaranteed roster bonus to be paid by the acquiring team. When that $10 million roster bonus is paid, Wentz's 2022 salary of $22,000,000 becomes guaranteed.

• In 2022, the new team would own Wentz' guaranteed salary of $22,000,000.

In 2023 or 2024, the acquiring team could trade or release Wentz with no cap penalties.

The yearly rate a new team will pay Wentz is in the same neighborhood they'd pay for the services of some of the other trade candidates, like Garoppolo, Carr or Bridgewater.

Whether or not Roseman will be able to consummate a deal — a good one at that — is obviously anyone's guess. But you can be sure Roseman is in no rush, and is daring the Bears, Colts or any other interested teams to try their luck with a Kyle Allen or Mitch Trubisky.

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